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A Simple Holiday Truth

Emily Dean

snowy sunset-2.jpg
There is a warm glow that surrounds this time of year – if we’re willing to see it.

When I was a child, late in the evening, after the dinner dishes were washed and we’d usually be getting ready for bed, my mom would bundle us kids up in our winter clothes and we’d walk fifteen minutes to a nearby hill. Mom would carry the sleds and we’d walk behind her being careful to step in the tracks made from her winter boots. We’d spend hours sledding down that hill (that now doesn’t look all that big), Mom encouraging us as we’d make the long climb backto the top after our gleeful ride down.

The first few runs we’d be too scared to ride by ourselves, always begging Mom to sit in the back of the sled, her arms holding us tight. After we’d become accustomed to the feel of the wind rushing past us, our stomachs turning flips, one of us would gain the courage to ride by ourselves, screaming at the top of our lungs as we sped into the oncoming darkness. We’d fall over laughing when someone rolled off mid-slide or ended up being dumped into a pile of snow. The sled always seemed out to get us, never going where we planned and usually faster than we’d hoped.

We’d return home, exhausted and exuberant, eager to tell Dad the stories of our sledding adventure. Numb fingers and toes would be brought back to life as we sipped hot chocolate and left our wet clothes in growing puddles on the mudroom floor. Those nights became part of my childhood’s holy grail – the adventures that kept my little world a place only of excitement and joy.

As an adult, the holiday season usually feels anything but excitement and joy. There is the pressure to buy the best gifts and create homemade wrapping paper and bows. There are a thousand holiday parties that require driving through the snow and the cold, holiday spirits lost back where we took a wrong turn. The hustle and bustle can feel overwhelming and noisy, especially when the world seems to hurtle by even faster: political nightmares, horrifying world events, the sadness of those who won’t receive even a glimmer of hope.

There is my own baggage that I bring with me now that tries to dim the cheerful lights and keep me worried and fearful. The truth of the matter is that there are a thousand reasons not to celebrate this time of the year. But we only really need one reason to find delight – and that is found in one another.

With the first snow comes the first magical feelings of holidays and all the delight that they bring: mugs of steaming hot cocoa topped with too many marshmallows; the spicy scent of fresh pine trees and wreaths; golden balls of light twinkling at passersby, strung from rooftops and trees; thawing your frozen cheeks and Rudolph-red nose next to a cheerful fire.

Despite the cold, never minding the frost or the icy gusts of winter wind, there is a warm glow that surrounds this time of year – if we’re willing to see it.

After all, my childhood sledding adventure was really made joyful because of who I was with, not the flimsy plastic sled or the curve of the hill. I might have been too young then to know the reason why those moments became such important memories for me, but I know now that the beauty was found in sharing an experience with people I loved.

The hope in this truth is that no matter who you are, what family you do or don’t have, whether you feel gushy at the thought of Christmas carols or would rather leave decorating to the elves, you can create warmth this season by being with the people you love. No fancy gifts, gourmet meal, or giant inflatable Santa needed.

Leave the hubbub and craze of the season to someone else and find real joy in the laughter around the table, chasing kids through the snow, a pair of arms holding your close when snow begins to fall.

Article by Reeve Klatt | Photography by Hilary Hyland